When the highly deserved praise for our three American heroes the French fast train attack dies down – and we hope it won’t for a while, given all the bad press U.S. uniformed figures have been getting lately – there are some obvious lessons to be learned.
What’s worrisome, again, is that these deductions from what we already know about a complicated situation are not new. As we move toward commemoration of the 14th anniversary of the initial attacks from [the unnameable to the White House] Islamic terrorism, we are beginning to see self-evident measures that need to be greatly reinforced.
• We are going to need more help from the great majority of the 1.3 million Moslems around the world – and especially in the U.S. where we know there is more integration and identification of immigrants and native born with our own cultural norms. To make this suggestion is not Islamophobia. After all, the terrorists are not coming from Southern Baptists or little old ladies who are stopped and made to take off their shoes in the airport security gates.
• This standard cliché of the quiet boy whom nobody suspected is beginning to wear thin. Either parents are looking the other way, rationalizing aberrant behavior, or there is an epidemic of acting and pretense among young Muslim radicals which would tax the best of Broadway and Hollywood. And we don’t accept the latter. It is incumbent on Muslim parents and relatives to be alert to the seduction of their young by the radicals, whether here or abroad. And when there is any hint of association with the wrong internet sites, wrong companions and too much attendance to the wrong imans in some mosques, it ought to be brought to the police’s attention.
• But perhaps even more important and more obvious that these complicated personal relationships, it is that the Moslem devout must do something about imans, religious leaders, who are spouting hatred and even jihad in some mosques. Among those who follow terrorism – and we suspect among the Muslim faithful – those mosques and those imans are readily identified. Again, religious bigotry which is constantly being purveyed on a scale in some mosques is not occurring in our churches and even in our synagogues where the Israel-Arab solution is a delicate one..
• Something has to be done about not only about better intelligence pursuit of evidence about better exchange and cooperation. Apparently the Spanish, French and Belgian police were all aware of the inclinations of the young Moroccan terrorist on the train and had even had him on various watch lists. Granted that with the vast numbers of young Muslims in Western Europe, the problem of identifying terrorist suspects or candidates for such radicalism is not an easy one. That, of course, has been intensified by large numbers of these young going off to fight one side or the other in Syria. But again, returning to our earlier points, we think there can be a vast improvement in our intelligence and our ability to deal with such loan wolf attacks.
Perhaps Pres. Barack Obama was right to identify Daesh – ISIL, ISI, Islamic State – as a longterm problem for American diplomacy and for the military operations which will be needed to bring it down. But to anticipate a long war is not to prepare to fight one. We think these episodes – apparently this young terrorist had been in Syria and had some relationship with Daesh, emotionally if not through digital communication – prove that the Administration must speed up its mobilization to take on Daesh and destroy it. Their continued success, and their very existence with calls for a new caliphate, only breeds a bandwagon effect among young Muslims who may have other emotional problems but who latch on to jihad as way of expressing them.
Nor can we Americans sit back and assume that the smaller numbers of American citizens and residents of Muslim heritage are going to lessen our own immediate threat. Copycat imitations are bound to come. And it is important that we integrate more thoroughly our own intelligence operations with those of our European allies at the same time we button down local intelligence with the methods apparently used so effectively by the New York Police Department before Mayor Bill de Blasio’s shut them down. There is circumstantial evidence that they had been so important in intercepting numerous plots, although intelligence prohibits listing or numbering them.
For all these reasons, time is of the essence in mobilization against future lone wolf jihadists as the French train incident has once again proved.